At around 6 months of age, your baby will begin showing signs that they are ready to start experimenting with solids. Whether you are a breastfeeding mom or if your baby is on formula, it can be both exciting and quite daunting - especially if it is your first baby.
Babies are quite incredible. They always know exactly when they are ready to conquer a new milestone, and will find ways to let us know. We just need to follow their lead. There are a few signs your baby will give to show that you should start introducing solids slowly into their diet. A few signs that your baby is ready include:
- good head control
- sitting well when supported
- Showing an interest in food
- No tongue reflex to push out food
- A readiness to chew
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies only start solids after 6 months. They advise that breast milk and formula are the only food source for the first six months, and the primary food source for the first year. Babies guts aren’t ready to digest foods before six months and it may be harmful to them starting any earlier. They will also enjoy their food more from six months as they watch everyone else around them eat, and they want in!
Don’t become overwhelmed when trying to decide what to first feed your baby. Keep it simple. Their taste buds and stomachs are still developing and have only ever been exposed to milk. They need to start on basic, simple foods. Fruit, vegetables and rice-based cereals are the best starter foods for babies. Good fruits to start with are apples, pears and banana, the best vegetables are butternut and sweet potato and then a milk-based rice cereal can be introduced as well. Steam the fruit or vegetables until cooked and soft, then puree in a food processor. The fruit or vegetables need to be pureed well to avoid any choking hazards.
Not only are fruit and vegetables super tasty and easy for your baby to digest, they are full of vitamins and nutrients that can do nothing but provide your baby with all the good stuff they need to grow.
Start slowly when introducing solids into your baby’s diet. Let them drink before eating so that they are full and do not depend on solids to fill them up. It is all about exploring taste, texture and developing the skills to eat. Introduce purees one at a time. Keep to the same fruit or vegetable for a few days to make sure that your baby doesn’t have an allergy to it.
Breast milk and formula are the most important source of pretty much everything for your baby’s first year of life, and solids are only there for exploring and discovering new things, getting your baby ready to take on full-time eating later on. Do not take introducing solids as a way to wean off of milk, there really isn’t anything better for baby than mommy’s milk - and formula too!